It is holiday time and that means Celebration in the Oaks at City Park! It has become such a tradition for all of our families, so we don’t want you to miss it this year. Thanks to Terry Hall and Superior Energy, the major sponsor for Celebration in the Oaks and so many other incredible causes in our city, and to our other cover participants: Mike and Nancy Marsiglia [Mike is the incoming president of the board of commissioners for City Park and Nancy a longtime supporter of the park]; Paul Masinter, outgoing president of the board; and last but certainly not least is the fabulous Beau Bassich, executive director of New Orleans City Park Improvement Association! There is a new dancing light exhibit in the garden and an all-new Arts Village in the Amusement Park area – even everyone’s favorite Mr. Bingle makes an appearance! You can take the walking tour and the children out to ride the new ferris wheel or, better yet, book a party in the new Birthday Village in Storyland by calling Melissa at 488-2896.

City Park is hosting their New Year’s Eve Party called Pop A Cork on December 31, from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Dance to great music, dine on sumptuous food, be with your favorite friends – but get your reservations now! Call 483-9376 for tickets [$125 a person!].

Bob Becker is doing a tremendous job as CEO of the park and deserves great praise for guiding City Park through these times pre- and post-Katrina. City Park is a real jewel thanks to the work of so many supporters and volunteers!

After Celebration, you must head on down to Canal Street for the Downtown Development District’s “Christmas on Canal” – they’re bringing back Canal Street the way it used to be! It will be decorated to “the Nines” – the tree lighting has already taken place, store fronts are being decorated and on December 6, there will be an all-star parade and concert with, among others, Rebirth Brass Band, Batiste Brothers and Amanda Shaw, with our own wonderful Frank Davis leading parade and a special appearance by Mr. Bingle! There will be a Kids Day on December 13 as well. It is all starting at the Astor Crowne Plaza on Canal Street. Don’t miss it!

We have two great sections that will help to get you through your holiday shopping: Our Holiday Gift Guide as well as a feature on how to fashionably give charitably. You will get great tips and ideas. And look to Cat Wall Aschaffenburg’s column for easy gifts for those who make you feel beautiful that won’t break your wallet.

If you need a fabulous book for holiday giving, be sure to get Michael Sasser’s new book – Cooking with a Private Chef: New Orleans to Newport. He is the personal chef for Minnie and Jimmy Coleman and you’ll get great recipes and insights from Newport to New Orleans. He will be singing books at the Savvy Gourmet on December 11 at 6:30 p.m., Octavia Books on December 13 at noon and Maple Street Bookstore on December 20 from 1 to 3 p.m.

Lakeview has the best new store called NOLA Beans and you’ve got to go! It is a coffee shop, a meeting place, a healthy dining spot for breakfast and lunch – they even cater! It is located at 762 Harrison Ave. and is open Mon.-Sat., 7 a.m.-6 p.m., and Sun. 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Check out its Web site www.nolabeans.com for menus, including gourmet coffees, drinks and more. The owners are so energized about our community, so go hang out and catch up with friends!
Don’t miss Prospect. 1 – get friends together and explore this fabulous biennial by starting at the CAC. Have a great holiday!